Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) both target respiratory system of the body. In both of the conditions inflammation of lungs results but nature of inflammation varies. Here there are few differences between Asthma and COPD.
Difference in etiology:
Difference in age:
Age is one of the most important differentiating factors as Asthma mostly occurs in childhood or adolescent but COPD most commonly occur later stage of life.
Difference in Smoking history:
Those patients who are smokers or have exposure to tobacco environment are more likely to suffer COPD while Asthmatic patients are mostly non-smokers.
Difference in symptoms:
- Symptoms of Asthma are intermittent whereas symptoms of COPD are chronic and progressive
- Chronic productive cough is a common symptom in patients suffering from COPD but it is uncommon in Asthmatic patients
- Breathlessness is progressive and persistent in COPD but it is variable in Asthma
Forced expiratory volume (FEV1) is another differentiating factor between COPD and Asthma. “In Asthma, decreases in FEV1 return to normal between Asthma attacks, while changes in FEV1 in COPD are generally not “
Difference in common coexisting conditions:
Different types of common coexisting conditions are present in both Asthma and COPD. For example patients of COPD may have smoking related abnormal conditions such as coronary heart diseases or osteoporosis while Asthmatic patient may experience following types of coexisting conditions such as eczema or allergic rhinitis.
Difference in treatment:
- The standard treatment of Asthma of all stages include inhaled steroids but in case of COPD only limited patients get relief from inhaled steroids.
- The cure of Asthma is possible by providing by proper and timely medication but COPD can only be controlled not fully cured
- Asthma can be treated by using certain antibiotics and inhales steroids but for the treatment of COPD strong antibiotics and artificial oxygen is needed.
|Symptoms under age 35 years||Common||Uncommon|
|Smoker or ex-smoker||Uncommon||Almost all|
|Chronic productive cough||Uncommon||Almost all, progressive|
|Breathlessness||Episodic, variable||Persistent and progressive|
|Night-time breathlessness and/or wheeze||Common||Uncommon|
|Significant diurnal or day-to-day variability of symptoms||Common||Uncommon|
|Reversibility with beta2-agonists||>15%, except in remission||<15%|
|(a) These conditions may coexist.COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (old term was ‘chronic bronchitis’).|
- Asthma is more common in children but COPD is common in adults
- Asthma can be treated by using mild drugs but for COPD strong medication is required
- COPD is more common in smokers but Asthma is less common in smokers
- Asthma is a reversible disorder but COPD is irreversible.
- Sciurba FC. Physiologic similarities and differences between COPD and asthma. Chest2004:126;117S-126S.
- Global Initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease: Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of COPD. 2011. www.goldcopd.org
- Lugogo N, Que LG, Fertel D, Kraft M. Asthma. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 38.
- Brozek JL, Bousquet J, Baena-Cagnani CE, Bonini S, Canonica GW, Casale TB, et al. Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) guidelines: 2010 revision. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Sep;126(3):466-76.
- National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publication 08-4051.
- Wechsler ME. Managing asthma in primary care: putting new guideline recommendations into context. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009;84:707-717.
- Fanta CH. Asthma. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:1002-1014.
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